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The Eternal Origin of the Incarnation

What came first, sin or salvation?

by Andy Davis on December 16, 2023

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from the days of eternity. Micah 5:2


The “Little Town of Bethlehem” was identified by the prophet Micah as the birthplace of Christ about seven centuries before Christ was born. But the plan was formed in the mind of God before the foundation of the world… as the verse says in powerful terms—the origins of the Messiah are “from of old, from the days of eternity.” The text says more than that, for it is clear that the coming ruler of Israel will come “for me”—that is, for Almighty God. He is the “Servant of the Lord” (Isaiah 52:13) who came to do God’s will even at the cost of his life. So, he came on behalf of God to rule Israel.

But the origins of the plan are what boggle the mind, making it reel. The text speaks of the Messiah’s “origins” or “goings forth.” Picture the beginning of a sunbeam from a nuclear reaction on the surface of the sun. It starts its 93-million-mile journey through the darkness and emptiness of outer space to reach the surface of the earth. It had a definite origin, though staggeringly distant from us. It took the Apollo astronauts four days, six hours and forty-five minutes to reach the moon. At that same rate, it would have taken them 1651 days to reach the sun… four and a half years. The sunbeam travelling at the speed of light would take 8 minutes and 20 seconds. But however long, it had a definite point of origin.

"Before God said, 'Let there be light,' he had already planned the coming of his Son into the world."

Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory,” come from eternity past as the true light that enlightens every person. (Hebrews 1:3; John 1:9) Philip said to him, “Show us the Father.” Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9) Jesus’ “goings forth” were “from of old, from the days of eternity.” Before God said, “Let there be light,” he had already planned the coming of his Son into the world. Before there was any way to mark time—any earth to rotate on its axis, any sun, moon, stars to mark seasons and days and years—before there was evening and morning and the first day, before any of that, Jesus’ goings forth had their origin.

But in some sense, this entire language is what theologians call “anthropomorphism,” shaping the infinite mind and character of God into human language and experience. To be more perfectly exact, God has never had a new idea pop in his mind, and he never will. God has never “worked something out” or “come to a conclusion.” God has never pondered a conundrum and solved it. Omniscience means God already knew it. Therefore, there really was no “origin” to the conception of the incarnation. God always “knew” he was going to send his Son into the world in the fullness of time to a place the Jews would call “Bethlehem Ephrathah.”

Ponder that. Then worship the eternal mind which determined to save your soul by this indescribable gift.

Tags: incarnation, grace, salvation, birth of christ, omniscient, infinite journey